My mother is amazed that I like to write. She says she doesn’t know how I come up with the things I write about. I guess I can understand that. It’s the same way I feel about musicians who compose music. How do they come up with new songs? I’ve heard some say that they hear it in their heads. That’s the way it is with writing. Scenes and plots float through my mind, nagging me until I write them down.
For this guest post, I was asked to write about where I get my characters from, if their names have specific meanings, and how I decide to name them.
Those scenes and plots I mentioned earlier have people in them. In a way, the characters were there all along, waiting for their story to be told. At times they have to wait a long time and drift into the background while I tell someone else’s story. They step eagerly into the spotlight when I recall them into memory again.
In my Narcissus Legacy series, I have three new characters waiting to have their stories told. The Vrykolakas Deviation is the first book in the series which tells the story of Keeva, a lonely soul with an identity crisis. At the moment, I’m writing and editing The Darkness Below which is the second book picking up with the story of Keeva’s daughter, Kaie, who is a different kind of vrykolakas. Unlike her mother, Kaie knows who she is even if she doesn’t fully understand what she is. Her struggles in life are mainly external. The third book will tell the story of Kaie’s broken-hearted brother, Connor, who becomes a creature which is pure weapon, taking pleasure only in causing destruction. His struggles are clearly internal. Last but not least is the story of Kaie’s daughter, Lyric. I’m not entirely sure what Lyric is yet. A nymph is the closest thing I can come to describing her. That might be what I call her in the story when I write it. Lyric is different from all of her relatives. She remains rock steady no matter what life throws at her.
Naming my characters is like naming a baby. In fact I have several baby name websites bookmarked on my browser. Back in 2007, I wrote a title called The Winds of the Molornu. Since it was science fiction and fantasy and not based on Earth, I wanted names which were unique. Many of the names in that book were thought up by my sons who can dream up interesting names at the spur of the moment. They would list them off and one name after another would be offered for my consideration.
In The Vrykolakas Deviation, I used real names since the story is set on Earth. I simplified Keeva’s name, which has Celtic origins, so that the reader can easily pronounce it. I named Keeva’s father Sandor because I like the name Sandor. I had never heard that name until I bought the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. That is how I ended up using the name Sandor in my book. Aside from writing, you now know that I like to make and eat lacto-fermented foods as well. Feel free to pour yourself a tall glass of kefir while you read my book.
I cover a lot of geographical territory in The Vrykolakas Deviation and I needed names that not only fit a particular region where the story was set but a particular time period as well. I came up with the names Severin, Delius, and Aspasia by using baby name websites which have the names divided into national categories. In this case, they are all Greek names because the Greek island of Santorini plays a large role in the story of the vrykolakas, which is a vampire creature said to inhabit that island long ago. Other names like Larry and Mandy came to me off the top of my head. Those two characters were born in the United States and needed American sounding names. I needed an Assyrian name for one character and decided upon Eil. Some naming sites say that Eil is a Hindu name. I say it’s Assyrian for the purpose of my book. I left some of the Celtic names with their original spellings and some are hard to pronounce. I hope that my readers will be forgiving of that. I chose to leave them as is because I borrowed a few characters from Celtic lore.
If I do decide to invent my own names, and if my sons aren’t around to offer their assistance, my go-to language is Latin. I’ve been known to string a couple of Latin roots together to form a name on more than one occasion. Yet, sometimes a character comes to mind with a name already attached. I see her or his face and the name is already there. It’s a surreal moment when that happens.
That, dear readers, is how I find my characters and their names. Thanks for having me here today!
The Vrykolakas Deviation
by Sherri Lackey
Keeva lives her life on the run, changing identities and personas. She is running from monsters she has never seen - vrykolakes, vampire creatures her father, Sandor, has told her stories about all her life. She had almost convinced herself that these monsters had all died in a volcano eruption on the island of Strongili long ago.
But when a vrykolakas named Severin kills Mandy, her best friend, she discovers the vrykolakes are alive and well. Keeva knows about Severin from her father’s stories, and her first impulse is to kill him and rid the world of the evil vrykolakas. She feels drawn to him however, and takes him prisoner. She hopes to better understand the vrykolakes and perhaps better understand herself. She is over two thousand years old. She doesn't know who or what she is, but she wants to find out. In order to do that, she has to discover her past. Severin might be the place to start looking for a connection to the past. Or, he could be the worst mistake Keeva has ever made.
"Good evening, Keeva," Darrin mumbled. He quietly inspected my knots and seemed to approve.
"Evening, Darrin," I said.
"Do you need some help?"
"That's nice of you to offer. Thank you."
"What are we doing here, where are we going with this?" He nudged my package with his foot.
"I need it brought into my apartment. If you could maybe grab that end and I'll get this one."
It was much easier lifting Severin with two people. I momentarily wished I'd brought Darrin with me when I'd returned to the reservoir that night, but of course I had originally planned to kill Severin and not bring him back home with me. I couldn't have known I would have benefitted from having an extra pair of hands.
Once inside my apartment, Darrin asked, "Where to now?"
"My guestroom just back there." I indicated the direction with a nod of my head.
The cord I'd tied the blanket with had come loose and the vrykolakas was lying there in full view on the bed. Darrin and I both stood there looking at him for a few silent moments. It was a trifle bit awkward.
Finally, Darrin said, "Those knots you tied on his wrists should hold him pretty good. You did a good job there." He nodded approvingly.
"Thanks." I wondered how much experience Darrin had in tying knots.
"Need anything else?"
"No, that should about do it. Thanks, Darrin, you've been a great help."
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Sherri Lackey, born in Carlsbad, New Mexico, now lives in Montana where the cold northern climate inspires her to write. She writes science fiction and fantasy with dashes of speculative fiction, a pinch of steampunk, and a touch of urban fantasy. She lives with her husband, Paul, and their three children. She also has a faithful dog named Raymond who likes to sit by her side while she writes.
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